The Occult is the study and application of a series of ancient, mystical practices that give power over natural forces. The Occult includes everything from astrology to alchemy, but most importantly, it encompasses dark magic, hermeticism and Gnosticism. This word has different meanings depending on who you ask!
To most, the Occult is about exploring one’s spirituality and tapping into a more cosmic power that exists outside of our conscious awareness.
The most comprehensive illustrated history of witchcraft is “A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the Occult”. This well-organized book will captivate you whether or not you believe in the Occult.
There are many different types of magic, and certain forms dominate in eras depending on the needs of their respective societies. For example, during the High Middle Ages, no distinction existed between Occultism and hermeticism because both were needed to survive the disease, plague, and famine. Occultists tended to be women, and hermeticists tended to be men.
The term “occultism” emerged in 19th century France, where it came to be associated with various French esoteric groups connected to Éliphas Lévi and Papus.
In 1875 it was introduced into the English language by Helena Blavatsky. It has been used as a nominalized adjective since the late 20th century. Occultism is often used to categorize such esoteric traditions as Spiritualism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
The word “occult” was first used in the 17th century by a German writer. It was used about the practice of witchcraft in the United States. The word is often used to refer to a set of techniques that are not known as obedience to the world’s occult scientists.
The term has also been used as a separate term to describe a form of witchcraft that may not be necessary for life in the world, although it has been used for centuries as part of the practice in Europe and elsewhere in the U.S. and the rest of the world as well as in the past.
A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult
If you are looking for further reading, you can’t go wrong with “A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult by DK.
This massive book is a comprehensive guide on the history of magic and all things occult. It begins with chapters on prehistory and goes all the way to modern ideas like the rise of occultists in the 20th century. It has many images to accompany all that the book tries to explain.
It is based on western beliefs, but it’s an excellent text for beginners and a great guide to beginners. The book is illustrated and includes many of the best images in the book to accompany the information.
As with any historical journey through the Occult, the truth can be hard to find, but the most reliable account is that magic originated with a group of people called the Atlanteans.
In their world, they had an advanced form of science and technology, which included flying machines, genetic engineering and nuclear weapons.
However, this knowledge was not shared by all Atlantean society – in fact, some were banned from the community for being ‘lesser beings’, and this group became known as the Druids.
The Atlanteans were also in contact with alien lifeforms called the Anunnaki, where they learnt their advanced knowledge of science, genetics and nuclear weapons.
There are many good books on the subject regarding written accounts of occult practices and societies. The knowledge available on Wikipedia encompasses many fields of study, including famous and infamous people involved in the Occult.
Looking at the present day, many secret societies have as their core belief system something that originated with the Atlanteans, Druids or Hermetic cultures of ancient times.
Magic witchcraft and the Occult in the present day
In today’s world, it is difficult to find a person who does believe in magic. Magicians and witches alike are still practising their craft as they always have done for centuries past, but they are confined to the pages of fantasy books and Holywood movies.
The belief that there are forces beyond our comprehension that governs Earth events has never been less commonplace than it is today. The scientific method has ushered in an era of rational thinking that denies any explanation of phenomena without a sensible, materialistic explanation.
But the Occult, and magic, in particular, has never been more popular than it is today – at least among those who do believe in its existence. Occult magic has found its way into music and the arts and is the subject of popular TV shows like American Horror Story.
Why do scientists dismiss the supernatural, paranormal and mythological?
Although a scientific explanation for the supernatural, paranormal and mythological can be contrived, it is typically considered an academic disservice.
The sciences are focused on discovering new knowledge and understanding uncharted parts of the natural universe. At the same time, supernatural phenomena are by their very nature unprovable due to their inherent non-scientific qualities.
Furthermore, most scientists want people to think that science can answer everything when in reality, they know it cannot. Thus scientists dismiss these things because they would instead focus on what currently has proof than speculation from many years ago about what very well could have been true then but not now. It’s more important for one to give up rationality altogether to believe in psychic powers and ghosts and the like.
Who is associated with the idea of esotericism?
Occultism studies the hidden or misunderstood nature and specific practices that can broadly be classified as “magic”.
The word Occultist was first used by Antoine-Joseph Pernety (1716 – 1796), also known as Dom Pernety. Dom was a French Catholic priest.
Hermes Trismegistus was an ancient Egyptian believed by many historians to have been a priest and the founder of what became known as hermeticism.
In 1552, Francesco Gabrieli translated “Corpus Hermeticum,” written by Hermes Trismegistus, from ancient Greek into Latin. The book is named after its author, who called himself “Hermes in three parts”.
What is Mysticism?
Mysticism refers to a wide variety of overlapping and intersecting spiritual traditions. In the broadest sense, mysticism involves seeking enlightenment (a personal understanding of God), union with the Divine, or walks with God.
It can be practised within Hinduism and Christianity, but it is also open to people in multifaith contexts who were not raised as religious. Mystics are seekers that aim to consciously reach an ultimate truth that goes beyond rational understanding alone.
What is Hermeticism?
Hermeticism is an ancient religious and philosophical tradition whose followers adhere to teachings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus.
The word “hermetic” derives from the name of the God Hermes, as it was believed that he had power over all trade and craft in Marydian society, inclusive of alchemy. Hermetic writings depict a deliberate training for one who intends on becoming a practising initiate-alchemist or hermetic philosopher; these are derived from perfecting oneself to become worthy into knowledge and wisdom. Other disciplines besides hermeneutics may encompass hermeticism, such as astrology, tarot, music, etcetera.
Hermeticism is said to have been derived from what’s known as esoteric, which is a type of knowledge that is hidden away and not typically known to the majority.
Another word for esoteric can be termed as “innermost” or “secret.” This stems from when people were secretive about their beliefs, not to have them questioned by others who may disagree with their beliefs.
What is Gnosticism?
Gnosticism is a family of belief systems distinctly separate from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions.
Gnostics believe it possible to reach perfect knowledge or transcendent understanding (knowledge of the Divine) on this Earth rather than through spiritual ascension, as do other religions. This position led most gnostics into conflict with established authorities in their communities and was the cause of recurrent persecution.
Madame Blavatsky was an important figure in the definition and understanding of Gnosticism. History has mentioned that her esoteric movement is recognized, but others claim her Theosophical Society was elitist and practised secretive behaviour.
In the strict sense, Gnosticism is a religion that relies on not just faith but knowledge and understanding for salvation. This type of Gnostic can be found at the Gnostic Church of Antioch. There are several branches of Gnosticism (for example, Valentinians), but they all rely heavily on knowledge and understanding to achieve salvation rather than faith alone.
What is an esoteric movement?
An esoteric movement is best understood as a subculture, which is the “constituent of a culture that has beliefs or activities not generally held by the majority.”
Some debate whether an esoteric movement should be considered a religion in its own right or only exist as part of another faith.
The word esoteric means “innermost” and refers to knowledge kept hidden away from people.
In an esoteric movement, this information may be restricted for its own sake, out of fear that it could become widespread and misunderstood without the proper rituals, context or respect.
Is the Occult always associated with something evil?
The short answer is no. There are many kinds of occult practices, and they’re all performed for different reasons by different people. Some are meant to harm others. Others are trying to learn more about themselves or the world around them using these techniques, which exceed the perceptual limits of typical sensory experience.
It’s a very open topic that can be hard for outsiders to understand fully without feeling like an outsider in their own lives!
Is Occultism a type of religion?
Occultism is not a religion. It is somewhat more of an eclectic set of beliefs and practices found in various religions, new religious movements, and other esoteric belief structures. If you’re looking for a religion, you’ll be better off looking at Wicca or the Church of Satan instead.
There may be some similarities to Occultism in traditional Christianity, but as Christianity has been taken up by many different cultures worldwide, making any definitive statement on its definition very difficult; In contrast, it would have some similarities with Occultism (due to its ties with Western European folklore). In others, the comparison doesn’t make any sense at all.
The word ‘occult,’ meaning hidden or concealed, has been used in its root meaning of “knowledge that is limited to only a few,” such as knowledge involving sex and drugs, fairies and ghosts, divinatory arts (tarot cards), ritual magic (casting spells). But Occultism can be more broadly defined as a set of practices that includes meditation and such phenomena as clairvoyance and mediumship. Western religions philosophies like Hinduism or Buddhism are also considered Occultist because they believe in reincarnation, which parallels tarot readings with past lives.
Occult movements are hidden from the public, and understanding them can be challenging because they are esoteric. But there have been many discoveries in recent years that give people a better look into these movements.
Scholars of American religious history have turned more attention not only to the account in America of the belief and practice of systems that have been explicitly “on the margins,” that is, Occultist but also to how they have influenced even mainstream religious groups.
The Golden Dawn
The Golden Dawn was one of the most well-known occult societies in history. Their members included many famous people from the past like Aleister Crowley (a prominent occultist), William Butler Yeats, Annie Besant, Arthur Edward Waite.
The Golden Dawn was an example of a magical order that believed in drawing down spiritual energies to attain enlightenment.
Another dark magic secret society is the Ordo Templi Orientis, founded in 1906 by Theodor Reuss and Aleister Crowley.
The members of the OTO engaged in rituals to contact beings known as ‘Secret Chiefs’ (or sometimes the “Holy Guardian Angel”). They believed these Secret Chiefs were living humans directly linked to higher planes, which is why they could provide the secret to enlightenment.
What are some recommended books on the Occult?
One cannot practise witchcraft without a deep knowledge of the Occult. It’s not just about spells and rituals; it’s about understanding the entirety of the human psyche and its connection to nature. In Occult Sciences, Dr Valerie Jaudon explains how to use astrology, numerology, tarot cards, alchemy (yes, alchemy!), and other disciplines to perform magic with a purpose in mind getting your crush to call you back or winning at poker.
Here are some classic text for those of you wanting to dive deep;
- The Secret Doctrine by Helena Blavatsky
- When the Light Goes Out: A True Story of Failing Your Kids – From the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Demon Inside
- Astrology Made Easy For Seniors: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Unlocking Predictive Meaning and Personal Insight into Astrology For Life on Earth
- Manifesting Abundance Through Kalachakra Empowerment, Inner Peace and Happiness
- You Can Change Your Mind: How Society is Changing Its Approach to Redesigning How We Age